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A trip to Disney to see Mickey or Universal Studios to visit Harry Potter is on many folks’ bucket lists. These theme parks in Orlando, Florida are a perennial favorite!
While park tickets can be pricey, your flights don’t have to be. A trip to Orlando is well within reach if you want to redeem miles and points from the best credit cards for travel!
We’ve written about how to save money at Disney World. Now we’ll show you the best ways to use your points.
We’ll also give you tips about budget airlines. And offsetting the cost of your flights!
Use Miles & Points to Get to Orlando International Airport (MCO)
If you want to visit Orlando, Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the best airport to fly into. Luckily, it’s a decent-sized airport with direct flights to many destinations in the US and 1-stop flights to almost anywhere you might be coming from.
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United Airlines all fly into Orlando from destinations across the US. Let’s take a look at some options to redeem miles to get here on these airlines (or even pay for a cheap ticket).
Southwest is a great option to fly into Orlando, especially if you have the Southwest Companion Pass! The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to bring a companion with you on any Southwest flight for only the cost of taxes (~$6 each way in the US) on both paid and award tickets! Yes, that means you can redeem your Southwest points for your flight and pay ~$6 in taxes, and bring a companion along for no additional points and ~$6 more!
Southwest flies from Orlando to 40 destinations within the US all year and they fly to 10 more destinations seasonally.
Let’s take a look at some typical cash and points prices on popular Southwest routes for mid-winter travel.
- Indianapolis (IND) to Orlando – $114 or 7,240 points
- Las Vegas (LAS) to Orlando – $191 or 12,190 points
- Denver (DEN) to Orlando – $161 or 10,594 points
Remember that with either option, you can bring your designated companion using your Southwest Companion Pass for only an additional ~$6 in taxes. Read our step-by-step guide about how to get the Southwest Companion Pass if you want to find out more.
Another thing that’s great about Southwest is that you can redeem your points as long as there’s a seat available. You don’t have to worry about award availability like you do with other airlines! That means that even if you are traveling with your family of 5 during the holidays or spring break, you can use points for everyone! It just may cost more points because the points cost is tied to the cash price on Southwest.
Remember you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.
American Airlines flies into Orlando from 10 airports in the US. Depending on where you are flying from, the cheapest award tickets will be with either American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios points. You can use British Airways to book tickets on American Airlines flights because they are partners!
One of the best uses of British Airways Avios points is for short flights on American Airlines, so if you aren’t traveling too far, using British Airways Avios points will be your best bet.
That’s because a one-way coach award ticket is only 7,500 British Airways Avios points for flights up to 1,150 miles. This applies to American Airlines flights from:
- New York – JFK
- New York – LGA
- Washington, DC National (DCA)
If you have a longer flight or a connection, you’ll be better off booking with American Airlines miles.
For example, a winter one-way flight from Charlotte to Orlando on American Airlines costs $376.
But Million Mile Secrets readers know that they can book this same flight for only 7,500 British Airways Avios points!
If you are looking at booking a connecting flight or have one of the longer American Airlines flights, your better bet is going to be to use your American Airlines miles to book your ticket. American Airlines charges 12,500 American Airlines miles for a one-way award flight from anywhere in the continental US, or 25,000 American Airlines miles round-trip.
United Airlines flies direct to Orlando from 8 destinations in the US. For the most part, United Airlines charges 12,500 United Airlines miles for a one-way award flight from the mainland US. And 25,000 United Airlines miles for a round-trip flight.
However, shorter flights, under 700 miles, on United Airlines cost only 10,000 miles for a one-way flight. Unfortunately, all of the United Airlines flights to Orlando are longer than 700 miles, so you won’t be able to snag that price for this trip.
Delta flies 12 direct flights to Orlando all year, and an additional 14 seasonal routes. Even though Delta no longer has an award chart, you shouldn’t discount Delta for your trip to Orlando.
For example, you can get a one-way flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Orlando for only 9,500 Delta miles! The flight does have one stop, but that’s still a great deal!
The same flights would otherwise cost $324!
Buy Cheap Flights to Get to Orlando
If you’re low on miles, or want to save them for an international trip, another option is to travel with a budget airline.
Orlando is a focus city for Allegiant Air. They operate a limited schedule. But if they fit your travel plans, you could get a good deal!
Note: Allegiant Air flies into Orlando – Sanford Airport (SFB), NOT Orlando – International Airport (MCO).
Allegiant flies into Orlando – Sanford direct from 61 US airports and 9 more airports seasonally. And they’re typically cheaper than major airlines. For example, you can book a flight from Green Bay to Orlando this winter for $99 one-way.
Be aware of extra fees with Allegiant Air though. They charge for your carry-on bag, snacks, and even to use a credit card to book your flight!
Frontier Airlines often has sales on select routes. You can get a good deal!
Frontier flies year-round from 35 US destinations to Orlando, and 16 more destinations seasonally.
For example, you can fly from Philadelphia to Orlando for a long winter weekend for only $138 per person round-trip.
As with other budget airlines, be on the lookout for extra fees.
JetBlue flies to 21 destinations in the US to Orlando all year long, and beyond to a number of Caribbean and Central American destinations.
You could fly from Atlanta to Orlando for a week-long trip this winter for only $133 per person round-trip.
Keep an eye out for JetBlue fare sales, because sometimes you can snag a very cheap flight! And if you want to redeem JetBlue points, remember JetBlue award seat prices are tied to the cost of a paid ticket.
JetBlue won’t charge you extra to bring on a full-sized carry-on bag, but they do still have checked bag fees.
Spirit gets a bad reputation, but they do offer some incredibly cheap flights! Spirit has direct flights to Orlando to 24 destinations in the US.
You can book a flight from Detroit to Orlando this winter for only $103 per person round-trip.
As with other budget airlines, don’t forget that Spirit is notorious for charging additional fees! Make sure you account for those before you commit yourself to a Spirit flight.
Budget Airlines Versus Other Airlines
Budget airlines offer low fares. Compared to other airlines, they have limited services and tighter seats. But it’s worth it if saves you a lot of money!
We checked fares for a long weekend in January 2019 to see how the budget airlines stack up against other airlines.
Dates: January 18, 2019 to January 22, 2019
Route: Austin to Orlando
Here’s how they ranked:
- Allegiant Air: Schedule Not Open
- American Airlines: $306
- Delta: $285
- Frontier Airlines: $262
- JetBlue: $267
- Southwest: $203
- Spirit: Route Not Available
- United Airlines: $470
In this example, the budget airlines were more or less comparable to other airlines. But it depends how you fly. For example, if you plan to have checked bags, Southwest is a good bet because they include 2 free checked bags with every flight.
Also, if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, the deal is even sweeter because your partner flies nearly free, so it’s like 2 for one!
It’s also important to consider direct routes versus connecting flights. If you find it a hassle to connect, you might want to pay more for a non-stop flight.
Dates: January 18, 2019 to January 22, 2019
Route: Denver to Orlando
- Allegiant Air: Schedule Not Open
- American Airlines: $421
- Delta: $425
- Frontier Airlines: $188
- JetBlue: $570
- Southwest: $310
- Spirit: $244
- United Airlines: $413
In this example, Frontier Airlines has the cheapest flight to Orlando. But you’ll have to pay extra for checked bags and even full sized carry-ons! The 2 budget airlines with routes on these dates, Frontier Airlines and Southwest, both have non-stop options, and with Southwest you’ll get free carry-on and checked bags. Depending on how you travel, that might make Southwest a better option.
Use Flexible Points to Pay for Cash Flights
Redeem Citi ThankYou Points With Citi Prestige or Citi Premier
Another helpful trick is to redeem Citi ThankYou points on flights. If you have the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier Card, you’ll get 1.25 cents per Citi ThankYou point when you book flights through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center.
That means that a $300 flight will cost 24,000 Citi ThankYou points. So a family of 4 could fly to Orlando for under 100,000 Citi ThankYou points.
The Citi Prestige card gives you $250 in airline credits per calendar year. You can use the credit for baggage or change fees. Or even airfare!
Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Chase offers a similar way to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for flights. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred Card, your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each if you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. And if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can do even better with a rate of 1.5 cents per point.
So with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll pay only 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the same $300 flights. That means that you can actually fly a family of 5 to Orlando for 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points!
The Chase Sapphire Reserve also offers a $300 annual travel credit that can be used for anything travel related, including flights!
Redeem Points for Travel Statement Credits
You could consider cards like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® if you prefer to redeem points and miles for travel statement credits after booking flights directly with your card.
If you have the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you can redeem Arrival miles for statement credits towards flights (and other travel expenses) of $100 or more. To do this, you’ll simply pay for your flights with your Arrival Plus. When the charge posts on your account, you can redeem points at a rate of 1 cent per mile against your airfare.
It’s a similar process with the Capital One Venture card. Pay for your flights with the card, then “erase” the charge with your Venture miles within 90 days of purchase. There’s no minimum redemption amount unless you’re using your Venture miles to partially pay for a purchase.
To fly to Orlando, you can redeem miles with airlines like American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta, British Airways, or Southwest. Also remember you can take a friend or loved one for nearly free when you have the Southwest Companion Pass.
British Airways Avios points can save you a lot of money when you use them for short flights on American Airlines.
You can redeem Barclaycard Arrival miles, Capital One Venture miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, or Citi ThankYou points for paid flights.
What’s your favorite way to save money on flights to Orlando?